Colts snap Texans' 9-game winning streak with 24-21 win

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Denico Autry (96) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
JORDAN GODWIN
WTHR.com staff
Published:
Updated:

HOUSTON (AP) — Indianapolis receiver T.Y. Hilton missed multiple practices with a shoulder injury in the week leading up to Sunday's trip to NRG Stadium for a critical AFC South matchup. The Colts said his status was up in the air.

Hilton knew he couldn't possibly miss a game at a place where he's had more success than any receiver since the stadium opened in 2002.

He played, and in Indianapolis' 24-21 win over Houston, Hilton had 199 receiving yards and Andrew Luck threw for 399 yards and two touchdowns.

"This is my second home, man," Hilton said, laughing. "This is my second home. I don't know. Every time I come here, I just go off. I don't know what it is."

Hilton entered as the all-time leader in receiving yards per game at NRG Stadium with 122.3 yards and finished Sunday just shy of 200 yards with nine catches on 12 targets. In seven career games in Houston, Hilton has topped 100 yards four times, with three of those for more than 175 yards.

The Colts (7-6) snapped a nine-game winning streak by the Texans (9-4), trimming Houston's lead over the AFC South to two games with three remaining.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal celebrates with quarterback Andrew Luck after catching a pass for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Dec. 9, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Luck said throughout the week, the Colts were seeing things in the Texans' defense that led them to believe Hilton's "speed and maneuverability" could again be a key to success in Houston.

"Once we got that first one, it was like, 'OK, here we go,'" Luck said. "When T.Y.'s in the zone, he's in a zone, man. It's fun to play with him and it's an honor to play with him."

Hilton's performance gave him his 11th 150-yard game, setting a franchise record. He has also topped 800 receiving yards for a seventh consecutive season, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Colts started slow and didn't have a first down until early in the second quarter. They went to a no-huddle offense and found momentum on that drive before a pass from Luck was tipped by Kareem Jackson and intercepted by Andre Hal.

Indianapolis finally ended a lengthy scoring drought after a 60-yard completion to Hilton set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Marlon Mack.

The Colts entered Sunday having allowed just 14 sacks, second only to New Orleans. Houston's usually menacing pass rush was largely neutralized with just two sacks from J.J. Watt and Christian Covington after being held without a sack against Cleveland last week.

"They did a good job, they played good football," Watt said. "T.Y. obviously had a huge day. We knew going in that's a guy we had to stop and we didn't. That's on everybody. Luck did a good job spreading it around, guys got open and he found them. We have to play better."

Indianapolis' defense, on the other hand, gave Houston fits both in the passing and running game. The Colts sacked Watson five times for a loss of 41 yards and held Houston's rushing offense to just 89 yards on 25 carries.

"There was a confidence all week," Reich said. "What was best about this was, we expected to win this game. We really did."

Watson had 267 yards passing and 35 yards rushing. Tight end Ryan Griffin led Houston receivers with 80 yards on five catches, while Hopkins was held to 36 yards on four catches.

"We're good. I mean, it's the NFL — every game is tough," Watson said. "It's tough to go on a two-game winning streak. We went on nine. Today it ended, but it's a new task to put this game behind us. Next week, we're 0-0 and we'll try to get 1-0. It's no panic button for us. We'll keep moving and try to flip the script next week and get back to the winning column."

Houston cut Indianapolis' lead to 24-21 with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Hopkins with less than three minutes remaining. With the Colts facing a critical third-and-1 at midfield, Luck drew Jadeveon Clowney offside to secure a first down and the win.

Clowney refused to comment when approached by reporters.

Houston scored first on a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Alfred Blue. The Colts then scored 17 straight before Houston opened the third quarter with a long drive to a 1-yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Lamar Miller to cut the Colts' lead to 17-14.

The Colts took a 14-7 lead late in the first half on a 14-yard pass from Luck to Eric Ebron. It was Luck's fourth straight touchdown pass to a tight end, three of which went to Ebron.

Luck had not thrown a touchdown pass to a non-tight end since the Nov. 18 win over Tennessee until the third quarter, when he found receiver Zach Pascal for a 12-yarder to put the Colts up 24-14.

Indianapolis had a 54-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead. During Houston's winning streak, the team never trailed at halftime.

"I don't like what happened today, but I'm fine with where we are," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "This is the NFL. We did not do a good enough job today. The Colts did a much better job than us. There's a lot of football left."

PLAYOFF RACE

Indianapolis will host the Cowboys and Giants before closing out the season in Tennessee, while Houston visits the Jets and Eagles before hosting Jacksonville in the finale.

HOPKINS' MILESTONE

With a 10-yard reception in the third quarter, Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins topped 7,000 receiving yards in his career. At 26 years, 6 months, 3 days, Hopkins became the second-youngest player in NFL history to surpass 7,000 yards, behind only Larry Fitzgerald who was 26 years, 3 months and 20 days when he reached the mark.

EBRON IN THE END ZONE

With his 12th receiving touchdown of the season, Colts tight end Eric Ebron set a franchise record for the position. The record was previously held by Dallas Clark. Ebron also has one rushing touchdown on the season. In four seasons with the Lions, Ebron totaled 11 touchdown catches and one rushing touchdown.

ASTROS IN ATTENDANCE

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez and pitcher Lance McCullers were all in attendance, with Bregman wearing a custom No. 2 Texans jersey with his name on the back. Bregman also briefly played catch with Watt on the sidelines during pre-game warmups.

INJURIES

Texans receiver and kick returner Deandre Carter left in the first quarter and was later ruled out with a concussion. . Colts right guard Mark Glowinski was carted to the locker room in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

UP NEXT

Colts: Host the Cowboys next Sunday.

Texans: Visit the Jets next Saturday.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Below is a live blog as it was written during the game by WTHR.com staff

HOUSTON (WTHR) - The Colts try to get back in the win column against the Texans. Follow Dave Calabro and photojournalist Ben Reiff as the cover the Colts' fortunes today.

4:10 p.m. - The Colts wind down the clock to hold onto their lead, beating the Texans 24-21.

4 p.m. - After both sides stayed quiet on the scoreboard for a while, Houston went 70 yards in just six plays and pulled within a field goal of Indianapolis with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game.

3:18 p.m. - Indianapolis answered pretty quickly with a touchdown of their own. Colts are back up by 10 and Luck has 305 passing yards for the day.

3:08 p.m. - Houston went for it on 4th down inside the one-yard line and squeezed into the end zone. Colts lead 17-14.

2:36 p.m. - Adam Vinatieri hit a 54-yard field goal to send the Colts into the locker room at halftime with a 10-point lead.


2:20 p.m. - Andrew Luck threw to Eric Ebron for a 14-yard touchdown, giving the Colts their first lead of the game.

2:09 p.m. - The Colts find the end zone and tie it up! A long pass from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton sets up Marlon Mack's touchdown run to make it 7-7 with the extra point.


1:59 p.m. - Starting at their own 9, the Colts put together their best drive of the game, but it ends with a pass off the hands of Zach Pascal and into the hands of Houston's Andre Hall at the Texans 13.


1:39 p.m. - Texans push it in for the game's first score, 7-0 with 2:26 left in the 1Q.

1:30 p.m. - The Texans start from their own 18, and quarterback Deshaun Watson scrambles for a first down all the way out to the Houston 40, but slides at the marker, and the Colts challenge this time, but the call stands.

1:25 p.m. - After a pair of runs by Marlon Mack totalling 8 yards, Andrew Luck hits Erik Swoope for a first down on a juggling catch at the Houston 43. But the Texans challenge, and the catch is overturned. Colts punt again.

1:20 p.m. - Colts defense steps up and forces another Houston punt.


This time Rogers returns to the Colts 41.

1:15 p.m. - After forcing a Texans punt, Chester Rogers returns to the Colts 40, but Andrew Luck's third down pass is batted down at the line. Colts punt again.


1:05 p.m. - Colts go 3-and-out on their first possession and punt to Houston.

12:05 p.m. - Former Colt Joseph Addai in the house!

11:30 a.m. - Colts inactives today: